My Booky Wook 2, by Russell Brand

Book review by Steve Bennett

Russell Brand’s a man who’s addicted to excess… whether it be heroin, women – or adjectives. When he waxes, he waxes lyrical, as you might expect given the gothic turns of phrase that characterise not only his stand-up, but his everyday speech.

And in the second volume of his often flowery memoirs, he’s got plenty to write about, even though they cover just a few short years. They were the years that propelled him from a humble (if that’s the right word in this context) presenter of a Big Brother spin-off show into the A-list, thanks to his dalliance with Kate Moss that thrust him onto the tabloid agenda, where he’s resided ever since.

Indeed, that co-dependency in notoriety between media and subject could have been his undoing, following certain ill-advised phone messages. But, not to spoil the ending, the book ends not with him cast back into obscurity which certain newspaper editors might have wanted, but with a blossoming movie career and with him meeting his bride-to-be. What a very modern fairytale ending…

Let’s dispense with the Sachsgate business first. There’s not much more Brand adds to the rainforest of newsprint already dedicated to the issue. He cites the ending of his long-term writing partnership with Matt Morgan as a contributory factor. The relationship dissolved amid the stress of the MTV awards when he insulted fans of the Jonas Brothers and President Bush in equal measure, leaving Brand to seek other foils on this Radio 2 show. The rest you know.

In fact, so publicly has Brand lived the past few years that My Booky Wook 2 offers no surprises in terms of plot. But on the subjects that are already in the public domain, he does approach everything with the honesty that makes him such a potent comedian. There’s possibly more to be written about his legendary ‘swordsmanship’ – the amount of women he just alludes to is positively Herculean – but in some respects he’s still the perfect gentleman. But he covers the events leading up to the ‘rape quiz’ at the Edinburgh flat he was renting that has never resulted in a court case, his dalliances with various Big Brother contestants, and his sometimes patchy early TV career.

The book does get a bit name-droppy, with his new-found friendships with the likes of Adam Sandler, Noel Gallagher and Morrissey. He admits many of his young conquests haven’t even heard of The Smiths, and if you fall into that category, you might want to skip the many pages of camp email ego-massaging exchanged between the two.

The elaborate language sometimes gets in the way, too. Ms Moss is not just beautiful, but described as: ‘Kate, who can only be squinted at lest her radiance shreds your mortal reinas… who’d had God present at her conception, ushering through the holy sperm to the sainted ovum, where the corgamic cries of her parents harmonised with sthe saluttions of the choiring cherubim.’ Yep, we get it, she’s pretty.

Flattery gets him everywhere, as his notch-ravaged bedposts will attest, but it’s a bit full-on. But that’s not to say he can’t craft a memorable turn of phrase, describing one piece of pulling attire as his ‘aphrodisi-belt’ or gushing that ‘Courtney Love’s vagina has a mythical power to bestow stardom and heavily gifts ’pon those who enter – a kind of Blarney-fanny’. And when he employs that purple prose to Katy Perry, the sentiment is genuinely touching.

Overall, it’s a bit of a tabloid read itself – just with a few longer words. It’s breathless, sexed-up and none-too probing, but guiltily entertaining for the rollercoaster ride into fame that it so showily describes.

Published: 8 Oct 2010

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